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What happens when employee assault happens off company premises?

by , 18 June 2013
On Friday, SowetanLive reported that a policeman who was allegedly filmed beating a woman at a Smithfield petrol station will be charged and prosecuted on two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Officer Ernest Maratshane will appear in the Smithfield Magistrate's Court on July 4. While this incident doesn't involve assault between employees, it does cast the spotlight on assault off company premises. Read on to find out how to deal with a situation where employee assault happens off company premises.

You probably know that you can dismiss employees for fighting and assaulting each other in the workplace.

But, do you have jurisdiction over an employee who assaults another employee off company premises?

Here's what to do when employee assault happens off company premises

According to The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, you have jurisdiction over employees who fight, or are involved in assault, off work premises and outside of working hours, but only in certain circumstances.

This means there must be a connection between the employer and the incident.

These connections may include:

  • Employees fighting in public view on the grass outside the company gates;
  • While wearing overalls with the company name; and
  • Bringing the company name into disrepute.

Here's a real life example of how the courts dealt with a case of two employees who assaulted each other off company premises.

How courts dealt with employees who assaulted each other off company premises

Court case: In a case NUM v East Rand Gold & Uranium Company Limited, two mine workers finished their shift underground and while changing and showering, Pete and Moses started arguing about which is the best South African soccer team. The argument carried on while they boarded the mine bus, which transports them to their mine-owned accommodation 10km away. The argument became physical on the bus and a fight broke out. They both sustained minor injuries.

The company charged both employees with fighting and assault, and dismissed them.

The employees claimed that the fight hadn't taken place on mine property but on a public road between the mine and their hostel. But the Court agreed with the company.

The court found that the company had jurisdiction over the employees while travelling on the bus and was entitled to discipline them. The court agreed because the miners were travelling in a bus belonging to the mine.

Even though on a public road, the bus was on its way to the mining hostel, which was mine property. So the mining company did have the right to discipline mine workers outside of work hours but on mine-owned property

What to do if two of your employees assault each other off work premise fight

Remember, to establish jurisdiction over an employee who assaults another employee or employees, who fight outside working hours and off company premises, there must be a connection or link between the fight or assault and the workplace.

The connection or link between the incidents could also be that the cause of the fight or assault was work related.

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